Tuesday, 30th January 2001.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will link the continuance of British exports of military goods to Saudi Arabia to a programme for improving human rights and freedom of religion in that country. [HL340]
Saudi Arabia, like all countries, is granted licences on a case-by-case basis. The Government exercise special caution and vigilance when taking account of the nature of the equipment to countries where serious violations of human rights have been established by the competent bodies of the UN, the Council of Europe or the EU. If there is a clearly identifiable risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression, the licence is refused.
European Security And Defence Policy Report
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Draft Presidency Report on the European Security and Defence Policy submitted to the European Council in Nice has now been approved; and what, if any, were the substantive amendments made prior to adoption. [HL358]
The Nice European Council approved the Presidency Report on ESDP without any amendments.
asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the status within the European Union of Mount Athos. [HL394]
Under Article 105 of the Greek Constitution, Mount Athos has a special status. Mount Athos is governed by representatives of its 20 monasteries; a governor is appointed by the Greek state to exercise its responsibilities, such as public order.A Joint Declaration concerning Mount Athos was attached to the 1981 Treaty of Accession of Greece to the European Communities. The declaration was:
Recognising that the special status granted to Mount Athos, as guaranteed by Article 105 of the Hellenic Constitution, is justified exclusively on grounds of a spiritual and religious nature, the Community will ensure that this status is taken into account in the application and subsequent preparation of provisions of Community law, in particular in relation to customs franchise privileges, tax exemptions and the right of establishment.
A Joint Declaration on the status of Churches and non-confessional organisations was also attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997. It reads:
The European Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the member states. The European Union equally respects the status of philosophical and non-confessional organisations.
At that time, Greece made a declaration linking this to the 1981 declaration about Mount Athos:
With reference to the declaration on the status of churches and non-confessional organisations. Greece recalls the Joint Declaration on Mount Athos annexed to the Final Act of Accession of Greece to the European Communities.
Iran: Export Licences
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have recently authorised the issue of any export licences for Iran as an exception to the national arms embargo. [HL475]
The Government have recently issued a licence for the export of industrial gas turbine parts to Iran for civil end use. This particular industrial engine has been developed from a military engine and is commonly used to drive pumps and electric generators. The engine is not subject to export control when it is exported as a complete unit. However, when it is broken down into component form, a very small percentage of its parts are unchanged from their original form and, as military components, come within the scope of the UK's arms embargo and are controlled under Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994.The Government are satisfied that Iran does not possess any aircraft powered by the original military engine and that the risk of the components being diverted for use by the Iranian military is minimal.
Iran: Anti-Drugs Assistance
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are planning to provide any anti-drugs assistance to Iran. [HL515]
Most of the heroin sold on Britain's streets originates in Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of opium. Iran is a key country on the heroin route from Afghanistan to Europe. We share an interest in co-operation against the drugs trade.The Iranians make the world's largest seizures of opiates—253 tonnes in 1999. But it has been at a cost. Around 3,000 law enforcement officers have been killed in clashes with drug traffickers in the past 20 years. They deserve our help.The FCO has recently agreed to provide £400,000 towards the UNDCP/Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran Combined Interdiction Unified Strategy (CIRUS) programme in Iran to assist with anti-drugs work on their eastern border with Afghanistan and Iran.The Foreign and Commonwealth Office assistance is ring-fenced specifically for the established and successful CIRUS project.
Terrorism Act Orders
asked Her Majesty's Government:When they intend to lay a draft order under paragraph 16 of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000; when they intend to make and lay an order to amend the Channel Tunnel Order 1993 to apply the Terrorism Act 2000 to the Channel Tunnel system; and when they intend to make and lay regulations under section 119 of the Terrorism Act. [HL514]
My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today laid before Parliament a draft order under paragraph 16(1) of Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 enabling an examining officer to require certain persons to complete and produce to the officer, if required to do so, a landing or disembarkation card. The persons in question are those who disembark or embark at a sea or airport in Great Britain or Northern Ireland from or, as the case may be, on a ship or aircraft travelling between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland. As required under paragraph 16(1), the order sets out the information to be contained in the card and the form of the card.My right honourable friend has also made and today laid an order to amend the 1993 Channel Tunnel Order to ensure that the Terrorism Act 2000 extends to examining officers performing their functions in relation to the Channel Tunnel system; and regulations under Section 119 of the Act applying provisions of the Act relating to terrorist property offences to persons in the public service of the Crown. The regulations also disapply Section 19 of the Act, which imposes a duty to disclose information about suspected offences, in the case of persons performing, or connected with the performance of, regulatory, supervisory, investigative or registration functions of a public nature.
Election Expenditure Limits
asked Her Majesty's Government:What limits will be in place on election expenditure by political parties and third parties for the next General Election. [HL535]
Paragraph 3 of Schedule 9 to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 imposes limits on campaign expenditure by registered political parties in the 365 days prior to the date of a parliamentary general election. The maximum amount a party may spend is determined by the number of constituencies contested. A party receives an allowance of £30,000 for each constituency contested, subject to a minimum threshold. A party contesting every constituency in the United Kingdom would therefore be subject to a limit on campaign expenditure of £19.77 million during the normal 365-day period.We have today made a commencement order bringing Schedule 9 into force on 16 February 2001. As provided for in Section 163(6) of the Act, the order includes transitional provisions specifying a lower limit on campaign expenditure that will apply if the next general election is held less than 365 days after 16 February. In such circumstances, the allowance per constituency contested will be as follows:
|Period before date of election||Revised allowance per constituency contested||Limit on party contesting all 659 seats|
|Limit on controlled expenditure in:|
|Period before date of election||England||Scotland||Wales||Northern Ireland||Total|
Political Parties, Elections And Referendums Act: Implementation
asked Her Majesty's Government:When will the provisions of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 come into force. [HL536]
A number of the provisions came into force on Royal Assent or on dates fixed by the Act. We have today made a commencement order bringing into force the majority of the remaining provisions of the Act.The controls on donations to political parties and on election campaign expenditure by political parties and third parties will be among those that come into force on 16 February 2001. A registered political party will be required to submit its first quarterly donations report (detailing donations above £5,000 accepted by the party's central organisation and donations above £1,000 accepted at local level) to the Electoral commission by 30 April 2001, whereupon it will by published. Returns as to election spending will normally need to be submitted to the commission within three months of the date of an election or within six months where the return is required to be audited (because the expenditure exceeds £250,000). Other provisions of the Act will come into force on 16 March and 1 July 2001.The commencement dates for the provisions covered by the order, or which are already in force, are set out in the tables:
|Section/Schedule of Act||Timing of Commencement|
|Part I (The Electoral Commission)|
|Sections 1 to 3 and Schedules 1 and 2 (The Electoral Commission and Speaker's Committee)||On Royal Assent (i.e. on 30 November 2000)|
|Sections 4 (Parliamentary Parties Panel); 5 (Reports on elections and referendums); 6 [except subsection (l)(c) & (d)] (Reviews of electoral and political matters); 7 (Commission to be consulted on changes to electoral law); 8 (Powers with respect to elections exercisable only on Commission recommendation); 10 (Giving advice and assistance); 11 (Broadcasters to have regard to Commission's views in party political broadcasts); 12 (Policy development grants); and 21 (Interpretation of Part I).||16 February 2001|
|Sections 9 (Involvement of Commission in changes in electoral procedures); and 13 (Education about electoral and democratic systems)||1 July 2001|
|Part II (Registration of Political Parties)|
|Sections 22 (Parties to be registered in order to field candidates); 23 (The new registers); 24 to 27 (Preliminary requirements); 28 to 35 (Registration) and 37 to 40 (Supplemental) and Schedule 4 (Applications under Part II).||16 Febuary 2001|
|Section 36 (Assistance by the Commission for existing registered parties)||Two weeks after Royal Assent (i.e. on 14 December 2000)|
|Part IV (Control of donations to registered parties and their members etc.)—Sections 50 to 71 and Schedules 6 and 7||16 February 2001|
Section/Schedule of Act
Timing of Commencement
Part V (Control of campaign expenditure)—Sections 72 to 84 and Schedules 8 and 9
|16 February 2001|
Part VI (Controls relating to third party national election campaigns)—Sections 85 to 100 and Schedules 10 and 11
|16 February 2001|
Part VII (Referendums)—Sections 101 to 129 and Schedules 12 to 25
|16 February 2001|
Part VIII (Election campaigns and proceedings—
|Section 130 and Schedule 16 (Control of donations to candidates), Section 132(2) to (4) and (6) (Financial limits applying to candidates' election expenses); Section 134 (Meaning of "election expenses"); 135 (Meaning of "candidate"); and paragraphs 3 to 5,7,10, 11 (a), (b)&(d), 15 & 16 of Schedule 18.||1 July 2001|
|Sections 131 (Election expenses incurred otherwise than by candidate); 132(1) & (5) (Financial limits applying to candidates' election expenses); 133 (Power to vary provisions about election expenses); 136 (Corrupt and illegal practices; consequences for persons convicted of such practices); 137 and Schedule 17 (Corrupt and illegal practices; election petitions etc.); and 138 and paragraphs 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 1l(c). 12 to 14, and 17 to 19 of Schedule 18 (Election campaigns and proceedings: miscellaneous amendments)||16 February 2001|
Part IX (Political donations and expenditure by companies)— Sections 139 and 140 and Schedule 19
|16 February 2001|
Part X (Miscellaneous and General)
|Sections 142 (Pre-consolidation amendments); 143 (Details to appear on election material); 145 to 148 (Enforcement of Act); 149 (Inspection of Commission's registers etc.); 150 to 154 and Schedule 20 (Provisions relating to offences); 155 (Power to vary specified sums); 157 (Documents for purposes of the Act); 158 (Minor and consequential amendments and repeals); 161 (Interpretation: donations); and 162 (Interpretation: exempt trust donations).||16 February 2001|
|Section 144 (Broadcasting of local items during election period)||16 March 2001|
|Sections 156 (Orders and regulations); 159 (Financial provisions); 160 (General interpretation) and 163 (Short title, commencement, transitional provisions and extent) and Part II of Schedule 23 (Other transitional provisions)||On Royal Assent (i.e. on 30th November 2000)|
Section/Schedule of Act
Timing of Commencement
|Schedule 21 (Minor and consequential amendments)|
|Paragraphs: 1 to 5; 6(1), (5), (6), (7)(b) & (c), (8)||16 February|
|&(9); 8 to 11, 12(2) & (13); and 13 to 15.||1 July 2001|
|Paragraphs: 6(2) & (7)(d) and 16 to 18||On Royal Assent (i.e. on 30 November 2000)|
|Paragraphs: 12(2) & (3)|
|Schedule 22 (Repeals)||As with corresponding provisions|
|Part I of Schedule 23 (Transfer of Registration of existing registered parties).||Two weeks after Royal Assent (i.e. on 14 December 2000)|
Those provisions of the Act not listed in the table will be brought into force by means of one or more subsequent commencement orders at a date or dates to be announced.
Rendlesham Forest/Raf Bentwaters Incident
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will detail the underground facilities at the former RAF Bentwaters installation; and what is the purpose of these facilities. [HL320]
There are no underground facilities at the former RAF Bentwaters.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are aware of any involvement in the 1980 Rendlesham Forest incident by either Ministry of Defence Police or personnel from the Suffolk Constabulary. [HL321]
The Minister of Defence is not aware of any involvement by the Ministry of Defence Police in the alleged incident. The Ministry of Defence's knowledge of involvement by the Suffolk Police is limited to a letter dated 28 July 1999 from the Suffolk Constabulary to Georgina Bruni that is contained in the recent book.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are aware of any investigation of the 1980 Rendlesham Forest incident carried out by the United States Air force, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations or any other United States agency. [HL322]
The Ministry of Defence's knowledge of an investigation by the US authorities into the alleged incident in Rendlesham Forest in 1980 is limited to the information contained in the memorandum sent by Lt Col Halt USAF, Deputy Base Commander at RAF Woodbridge, to the RAF Liaison Officer at RAF Bentwaters on 13 January 1981.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in the light of the new information contained in Georgina Bruni's book
You Can't Tell the People, they will now launch an investigation into the Rendlesham Forest incident and the response to this incident by the United States Air Force and the Ministry of Defence. [HL352]
No additional information has come to light over the last 20 years to call into question the original judgment by the Ministry of Defence that nothing of defence significance occurred in the location of Rendlesham Forest in 1980. Accordingly there is no reason to hold an investigation now.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have made any approach to, or received any approach from, any United States government or military agency concerning Georgina Bruni's book
You Can't Tell the People; and, if so, whether they will give details of any such approach. [HL353]
As a matter of courtesy, the Ministry of Defence informed Headquarters 3rd Air Force at RAF Mildenhall about the book. The US authorities have not subsequently approached the Ministry of Defence on the issue.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they now agree with the analysis of the basic facts of the Rendlesham Forest/RAF Bentwaters incident in the fourth paragraph of Lord Hill-Norton's letter to Lord Gilbert of 22 October 1997, reported on page 429 of Georgina Bruni's book
You Can't Tell the People; or, if not, in what respect they disagree. [HL354]
The Ministry of Defence's position regarding this alleged sighting remains as it did at the time of Lord Gilbert's reply to the noble Lord's letter of 22nd October 1997. From surviving departmental records, we remain satisfied that nothing of defence significance occurred on the nights in question.
Nuclear Test Veterans
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will make available to British nuclear test veterans the same screening facilities that are being provided for other ex-servicemen. [HL374]
Work co-ordinated by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), together with other published studies, indicates that even the most powerful radiobiological techniques for estimating historic radiation exposure in individuals are of doubtful use in the case of nuclear test veterans.
It must also be remembered that two independent epidemiological studies into the health of British nuclear test veterans, funded by the Ministry of Defence, concluded that participation in the UK's atmospheric nuclear test programme has had no detectable effect on participants' expectation of life or on their risk of developing cancer or other fatal diseases. We are also funding research into the incidence of Multiple Myeloma and other cancers among nuclear test veterans, the results of which should be available later this year. I therefore do not believe that there is a case in making screening facilities available to them.
Unsolicited Direct Marketing Communications
asked Her Majesty's Government:What their response is to the proposal from Erkki Liikanen, the European Union Information Society Commissioner, that laws governing unsolicited phone calls should be extended to include direct marketing via e-mails and text messages. [HL387]
Current regulatory controls on unsolicited direct marketing communications are based on the telecoms data protection directive (Directive 97/66/EC). Under the UK implementing regulations for this, the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999, unsolicited non-automated telephone calls for direct marketing purposes may not be made to individual subscribers who have indicated that they do not wish to receive them (automated calls are prohibited without prior consent). There are similar rules on direct marketing faxes to corporate subscribers but individuals have the dual right both to register not to receive such faxes and not to receive such faxes unless they have consented.There is some debate over the application of the current rules to e-mail and text messages and the Government welcome the Commission's proposal to clarify the position. The new draft directive (COM(2000)385), which covers e-mail and all other electronic communications, is not expected to come forward to the Council for negotiation before April. The Government plan to issue a consultation paper in the spring on the UK's response to the draft directive.
Monitoring Of Employees' Communications
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether adherence to the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, via the expedient of ensuring that monitoring of employees' communications is in proportion to the business benefits that an organisation could hope to achieve by it, will conflict with the purposes of the Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) Regulations. [HL390]
No. The Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000 establish the circumstances where a business can intercept communications without infringing the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. This does not affect, and was never intended to affect, the application of the Data Protection Act 1998, which ensures, among other things, that personal data is not collected, used or otherwise processed where there is no business or other legal obligation to do so or vital interests to be protected.
Third Generation Mobile Spectrum Licences: Auction
asked Her Majesty's Government:In the light of the report from Forrester Research, (a) whether they can confirm that there are no Human Rights Act 1998 implications arising from the Government's auction of 3G (third generation) licences; and (b) whether conduct of the auction involved any breach of a duty of care which could give rise to legal action against the Government. [HL414]
The Government are not aware of any Human Rights Act 1998 implications arising from their auction of third generation mobile spectrum licences, nor of any breach of a duty of care in the conduct of the auction which could give rise to legal action against the Government.
Employment: Government Policy
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether or to what extent the article by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment in the
Observer of 14 January represents government policy. [HL367]
Yes, the Secretary of State's article in the Observer of 14 January set out government policy. It considered some of the different ways we are working to increase the employment rates of disadvantaged groups. We want to ensure the difficulties stopping people moving into work are tackled effectively. At the same time we want to identify and deal with the minority of people who refuse to accept their responsibilities.
New Deal: Evaluation
asked Her Majesty's Government:Why, in estimating the numbers who have found work because of the New Deal, they ignore the effects of substitution; and whether they will give references for any academic studies which support them in so doing. [HL368]
We have in place a comprehensive macro-evaluation of the New Deal, which includes an analysis of the net numbers of people moving into work. Independent evaluation conducted by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research published last year considered whether there was evidence that 18 to 24 year-olds were being taken on instead of older workers and concluded that there was little sign of substitution. The same report found that long-term youth unemployment would be twice as high without New Deal and the economy is richer by £500 million a year because of New Deal.
Observer of 14 January) that "jobs are there for the taking in most parts of the country", what percentage of the registered unemployed live in constituencies where unemployment is above (a) 10 per cent and (b) 8 per cent. [HL369]
I n December 2000, 8·5 per cent of all claimant unemployed people in the UK were in the 27 constituencies where the unemployment rate was above 10 per cent and 17 per cent were in the 62 constituencies where the unemployment rate was above 8 per cent.There are new jobs coming up all the time, either in neighbouring areas which may be centres of employment opportunity or, indeed, in the constituencies themselves. The Government's welfare to work policies aim to match jobless people with these jobs.
Employability And Jobs
Observer of 14 January) that "it used to be thought that the number of jobs in the economy was finite", but that "the more people available to work with the right skills, the more jobs are created", what research underpins this statement; and whether they will give references for any academic studies involved. [HL370]
There is a discussion of the view that there is a finite number of jobs, or the "lump of labour fallacy" as it is known, in Unemployment by Layard, Richard; Nickell, Stephen, and Jackman, Richard (1991), Oxford: Oxford University Press.In addition, the House of Commons Education and Employment Committee undertook a study,
Employability and Jobs: Is there a Jobs Gap? This was published as the fourth special report of the 1999–2000
Session and included a memorandum from the DfEE which set out the Government's position.
The noble Earl might also be interested in a more recent paper From Restart to New Deal in the United Kingdom by William Wells that was presented to an OECD conference on the public employment service in Prague in July 2000 (publication forthcoming).
Observer of 14 January) that "our intention now is to make full employment a reality", how far this statement rests on plans to reduce the number of workless and how far on plans to reduce the proportion of the workless who are classified as unemployed. [HL371]
Our intention to make full employment a reality rests both on plans to reduce the number of workless people by helping them to get and keep a job and maintaining the economic stability which gives businesses the confidence to expand and create more jobs. The Government's ambition is to achieve a higher percentage of people in employment than ever before.Our plans involve reducing the number of workless people, both unemployed and economically inactive, by bringing those who are at a disadvantage back into the active labour force and from there into a job.
Bridge Street/Whitehall Bus Service
asked Her Majesty's Government:How many buses per hour in each direction are scheduled to travel between Bridge Street and Whitehall; and [HL426]When the right turn for buses travelling from Bridge Street into Whitehall, suspended during construction of Westminster Underground station and Portcullis House, will be reinstated; and [HL424]How many minutes on average would be saved on bus journeys by the reinstatement of the right turn for buses travelling from Bridge Street into Whitehall. [HL425]
These are matters for Westminster City Council and Transport for London.
Oil Spillages At Sea
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will take steps to secure effective international agreement to prevent or minimise the risk of oil spillage at sea. [HL476]
The international forum for achieving agreement on these issues is the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and, indeed, a number of international conventions have been put in place through negotiation in the IMO, notably: the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL), which restricts discharges from ships, including oil; the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990 (OPRC), which aims to provide a global framework for international co-operation in combating actual or threatened oil pollution at sea; there is an International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, established within the framework of the International Convention of Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1969 (CLC) and the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1971 (IOPC Fund Convention), and the Protocols of 1992 to both of these conventions. This regime provides compensation where oil pollution damage from tankers affects states which are parties to the CLC and the IOPC Fund Convention. The United Kingdom has ratified each of these agreements and we actively encourage others to do so too.There will be a diplomatic conference to adopt an international convention on civil liability for pollution damage caused by bunker oil (mainly, but not exclusively, the oil which is used to fuel the ships' own engines) in London on 19 to 23 March 2001, and the UK has played a positive role in the preparation of the draft agreement.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they accept the findings of the systematic scientific review of water fluoridation which they commissioned from the National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at York and which were reported on 6 October 2000. [HL449]
The Government accept the findings of the review and have asked the Medical Research Council to give advice on how existing evidence can be strengthened.
asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answers by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 17 January (
WA 136), in what section of the report of the systematic scientific review of water fluoridation by the National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at York is evidence to be found relating to areas where "overall health is poor", and to adults in such areas or in areas of social deprivation. [HL450]
On page 33 of the York report reference is made to a study which showed people in lower social classes had higher levels of dental caries. There are also studies which show that overall health is poor among people in lower social classes. On page 16, there is a reference to a study (Pot 1974) which "found the porportion of adults with false teeth to be statistically significantly greater in the control (low fluoride) area compared with the fluoridated areas".We asked the Medical Research Council to set up a working group to give advice on what further research might be required.
War Widows And Benefit Fraud
asked Her Majesty's Government:In how many cases benefit fraud was proven against war widows in each of the last two years; how the total in each year compared with that for mainstream benefits; and whether the numbers of proven cases justify legislation on social security fraud by war widows. [HL395]
Due to the methods used to collect information, it is not possible separately to identify all cases of benefit fraud by war widows. However, since April 2000 the War Pensions Agency has recorded five cases where a war widow failed to declare that she was living with a man as his wife. No prosecutions resulted but in each case payment of war widows pension was stopped. During the last two years there were approximately 10,000 successful prosecutions per annum for mainsteam social security benefit fraud.The Social Security Fraud Bill proposes that benefit would be sanctioned only if a person had twice been convicted by the courts for benefit fraud. War pensions have been included in the loss of benefits provisions in Clauses 6 to 12 of the Sociel Security Fraud Bill in order to protect the integrity of the Scheme.